Learn how to learn!
For the next few minutes, try forgetting what you know about the skill learning process. Rather think about how a typical day starts. Wake up, move, shower, eat, get organized, go to work. Whatever.
As we get moving, we begin to navigate and interact with our environment to achieve our tasks and goals. In each and every moment, we require a movement solution to the present problem. Even standing up straight, (yes there is a lot that goes into that).
Just getting out of bed involves interacting with the blankets, the edge of the bed and the floor. Showering, making breakfast, getting changed. All skills! Yes, skills we undoubtedly take for granted. But skills none the less.
One must only consider a person who has suffered a brain injury or stroke for example. And how often, they must again relearn and acquire these context specific skills. Life is movement!
Presumably you don’t drill the perfect ‘getting out of bed’ technique; that would seem absurd. Yet we do practice it. Likewise, we don’t drill making coffee, we don’t drill driving to work, we don’t drill any of our day-to-day routines. Rather, we repeat them in context, and overtime become more fluent and competent at them.
Whether it be climbing out of bed or jiu-jitsu, both present specific problems for us to solve.
But importantly, it’s the scale and difficulty of each problem that varies, not so much the process of how we find solutions.
Martial arts are incredibly complex and dynamic. When we drill (to presumably hard wire some idealized technical movement), we often feel competent in the near term by successfully repeating a movement (technique) over and over. But when we just repeat and copy what the coach has shown, are we really solving a problem? Is it even the correct problem? Not really, but we do look good, feel good and go home happy. Therein lies the seductiveness of drilling.
Learning however, is less about how you look, feel, and perform in the moment. It’s measured by how you look, feel, and perform in the future.
Nor is learning typically neat and tidy. It generally requires high levels of stress, failure, and persistence. Merely acknowledging this can be a superpower. *Buyer beware! There is an entire lucrative industry devoted to providing you the drills and techniques that will turn you into a master of martial arts rapidly. Unfortunately, little of that content jives with the science of skill acquisition.
You won’t find much drilling at Primal. Nor will you look and feel pretty too often. We practice the sport. We practice in context. We learn as we are designed to learn.
This means, rather than decontextualizing or uncoupling the dynamics of the sport, we scale it. We scale the speed, the forces and the rules appropriately for the learner. But always in the chaos of live and unscripted movement.
For a deeper dive into the science of skill acquisition and our ecological approach, check out our science page and podcast.